We all know Parvati as lord Shiva’s wife. But Sati, the Hindu goddess of marital bliss and longevity, was Shiva’s first consort. Sati is none other than “Adi Parashakti” (the Supreme Being). Parvati is believed to be the reincarnation of Sati. There is an amusing tale behind Sati becoming the wife of Shiva and events following the marriage.
Marriage between Shiva and Sati
Goddess Sati (also known as Dakshayani) was born as the the daughter of Daksha Prajaapati, one of the Brahma’s sons. She agreed to take the human form in order to bring lord Shiva away from ascetic life and into creative participation with the world through marriage. Daksha was an arrogant king. Seeing how beautiful his daughter was, he never wanted to give her to Shiva. Daksha wanted her to marry some great kings or princes. Daksha considered Shiva as an unclean and roaming ascetic, not worthy to become the husband of a beautiful and charming girl. But Sati’s mind was set on Shiva from a young age, and she wanted to marry him at all cost. She renounced the luxury life in the palace, and went into a jungle to meditate on Siva. Her father could not dampen her spirits.
Brahma intervened and arranged for the wedding of Shiva and Sati. The marriage was celebrated as a grand event, though Daksha was least interested in the affair. Shiva took Sati to his heavenly abode, where both of them lived happily. Daksha never approved his daughter’s marriage, and distanced himself from Sati. This disheartened her very much.
Self-Immolation of Sati
Once, Daksha arranged a great a yagna or ritual sacrifice. He invited all gods, royalties and family members. He purposely excluded Sati and Shiva from the list. But Sati was keen on attending the event, even though Shiva discouraged her. Sati attended the event, but was hurt when his father insulted her husband publicly. Unable to tolerate the insult, Sati sacrificed herself in the yagna fire. Shiva got mad with sadness and anger. Overtaken by grief, Shiva picked up Sati’s body and started the dance of destruction. The terrified gods asked Lord Vishnu to intervene. Vishnu used his Sudarshana Chakram, which cut Sati’s dead body into 52 pieces. These pieces fell at various places. These 52 places are called Shakti Peethas, and became holy spots to pray to the Goddess. They are now renowned places of pilgrimage.
Years later Adishakti was reborn as daughter of Himavan, king of the mountains. She was named Parvati. This time she was born as the daughter of a father who appreciated Shiva passionately.